His office said the UN rights chief will begin his much-anticipated visit on Monday to China, which includes the Xinjiang region, where officials are accused of widespread violations.
After years of requesting “meaningful and unfettered” access to China’s far-western Xinjiang region, Michelle Bachelet is finally going there next week.
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“The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday launched a six-day official mission to China at the invitation of the government,” his office said in a statement on Friday.
It is the first visit by a UN rights chief to China since 2005, and Bachelet will “meet with a number of high-level officials at the national and local level.”
“The High Commissioner will also meet civil society organizations, business representatives, academics and deliver lectures to students at Guangzhou University,” the statement said.
An advance team was sent to China several weeks ago to prepare for the trip, and has completed a lengthy quarantine in the country, which is currently hit by a fresh COVID-19 outbreak.
Bachelet, who will not require quarantine, is not traveling to Beijing because of COVID restrictions, her office said this week.
But she will go to Kashgar and Urumqi in Xinjiang.
She ends the mission with a press conference on May 28 at an undisclosed location and issues a statement.
There have long been calls for Bachelet to visit Xinjiang and publish her office’s findings on the situation there.
The US government and lawmakers in several other Western countries have labeled China’s treatment of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang a “genocide” – a charge Beijing vehemently denies.
Rights groups say at least a million mostly Muslim minorities are imprisoned in “re-education camps” in the region, and face widespread abuses, including forced sterilization and forced labor.
China says it is running a vocational training center in the region designed to combat extremism.
In March, the United Nations Office of Rights announced that an agreement had finally been reached on arranging a visit, although it was still unclear when Bachelet’s team would release their long-delayed report on the situation.
Rights groups, diplomats and others have expressed concern that Beijing will manipulate his visit and have intensified calls for the report’s publication.
But a spokeswoman for Bachelet said Tuesday it would not be released ahead of her visit, and there was no clear time to make it public.
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